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Utes pull away from Thunderbirds

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Utah coach Bill Kinneberg liked what he saw in the first inning of Monday's 8-3 non-conference win over Southern Utah at Ute Field.

He just wants more of it.

The Utes scored five runs to pull away from the Thunderbirds early.

"I love it. I wish we had sustained it a little bit and maybe put a run or two up in the second and third to keep the momentum going on our side," said Kinneberg. "We've done that quite a bit this year. We have to keep a rally going or create another one."

Utah, however, did more than enough in the opening inning to overpower struggling SUU.

Leadoff hitter Nate Burnham got things off to a quick start with a home run. John Welsh later added an RBI single to usher in a barrage that included a score on a balk and run-scoring hits by Bret Baldwin and Erich Kemp.

Trailing 5-0, SUU cut into the deficit in the second on a sacrifice fly by Joe Wright. Two innings later, the Thunderbirds closed the gap to 5-3 on a double by Wright and a fielder's choice.

Utah then capped all scoring in the contest with two runs in the fifth and one in the seventh. A single by Burnham and a double from Corey Shimada provided the first scores, while Mike Mitchell's RBI single accounted for the latter.

The Utes wound up with 15 hits to back starting pitcher Chad Cullers, who upped his record to 4-4.

The victory gave Utah a 4-1 nod in the five-game season series with SUU.

Both teams return to league play Friday. The Utes (19-21) open a Mountain West Conference series at UNLV, while the Thunderbirds (6-36) head home to face Mid-Con foe Oakland.

E-mail: dirk@desnews.com